Words by Jeff Schmuck
I was lucky enough to grow up in Rossland, B.C., in the shadow of what many consider to be one of the most real deal ski hills not just in Canada, but on god’s green earth: Red Mountain Resort. As anyone who’s been beheld by Red’s loving arms can attest, the resort and nearby Rossland offer one of the purest and most authentic small town ski experiences that any mountain enthusiast could ask for. For some who’ve visited, Red is simply a ski hill that’s worth singing praises about. But for me, it’s always been so much more. Growing up, Red was my sanctuary, my playground, my babysitter, my best friend, my home, and my favourite place in the world, all rolled into one. And to this day, it still is.
So when my hallowed hometown ski hill came calling a few weeks ago to inform me that they’d be launching an innovative and unique initiative in the ski world (which mirrors the Green Bay Packers and a number of European soccer teams) that would offer members of the general public a preliminary level of ownership of Red through crowd funding, I was naturally intrigued. Not just as a member of the ski industry, or a skier, but as a proud Rosslander.
As a result of my close kinship with the resort and its community, the news naturally raised many a questions in my mind: Were they hurting for money, and at risk of going under? Would this attract nefarious capital investment from deep-pocketed sources who may attempt to usurp the soul of Red? Or was it an aptly-timed and well-orchestrated reaction to Vail Resorts’ recent and surprise acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb?
Given Red’s recent history of refusing to be afraid of boldly and cheekily calling out other resorts, the latter seemed likely. However Red Mountain Resort’s CEO Howard Katkov says that while the timing of the announcement may seem curious to some (but comically coincidental to the resort), this plan has been in the works for close to seven months, and the controversy surrounding the ski resort purchase heard round the world does lend credence to the cause.
“Independent ski resorts matter,” Katkov says. “We’re investing in the preservation an endangered species, because what we have at Red is something that needs to be protected for generations to come.”
In terms of what Red plans to do with your cold hard cash, one could paraphrase Donna Summers by saying, “I work hard for my money, so you better treat me right.” And if you ski at Red, that’s what they're looking to do. As you can read all about on the crowd funding campaign page, the money that Red is aiming to raise won’t be utilized to pay back existing investors, nor is the objective annuity-based. Shares in the resort can only be transferred to family and friends, and while you will be an owner, investing won’t secure you an annual payout, or a high-backed comfy chair in the boardroom where you can chime in on managerial decisions. As a result, the initiative will likely prevent corporate fat cat money trickling or thundering in from those who've never set foot on Red’s fabled slopes and are just looking to pad their pockets, in favour of the community coming together to better their beloved backyard.
“The decision to do this is community-based and ski experience-based," says Katkov. "We’re looking for people who want to be a part of the family, and we want to make it accessible for dirtbag skiers.”
As the campaign page lays out, the funds will solely be used to facilitate infrastructure that will improve, expand and enhance the experience at Red. Plans include remodeling the Paradise Lodge, additional run development for expanded cat skiing on Mount Kirkup, building a new restaurant, clubhouse and overnight on-mountain cabins at the top of Grey Mountain, and the extension of the Silverlode chair to allow access to both Granite Mountain and Grey Mountain. For spring and summer activities, a multi-use trail for hiking and mountain biking from the base area to the top of Grey Mountain connecting to the Seven Summits trail system will be built. And in another admirable nod to the community, the crowd funding effort will support the creation of an annual local academic scholarship fund for higher education.
And perhaps best of all, you can brag to your friends that you’re part owner of a ski hill, which let’s face it, is pretty damn cool.
In addition to all of that, for those who are down to throw down, there’s added bonuses via a series of tiered investment rewards…
For more in-depth details on Red Mountain Resort’s crowd funding campaign, be sure to read the press release from Red below, along with visiting the campaign page by clicking here.
"Fight the Man. Own the Mountain."
RED Mountain Makes History. YOU Can Be an Owner of this Marquee Resort.
RED Mountain, the oldest ski resort in Western Canada, is dropping into the history books. The fierce, independent mountain that is the first stop on B.C.’s famous Powder Highway is bucking the trend of Mega Resort mergers and acquisitions and taking its next capital campaign to the people via the internet.
Yep, for the first time ever, skiers and snowboarders can actually be an owner of a world-class resort through equity crowdfunding without needing either a high net worth or a deadly credit rating. RED is calling this campaign “Fight the Man. Own the Mountain.” That’s right—OWN: The mountain, the chairlifts, the lodge, snow making—every asset of what we have. (Think of it as “Shred Equity”...).
“RED started as a ski club that was owned by the community,” explains RED CEO Howard Katkov. “You can feel it in the spirit of the place, the camaraderie, the spark. We have done everything in our power these last 12 years to keep that flame alive and this StartEngine.com campaign is simply the latest expression of our intent to keep RED independent and thriving. Our shared community values and the current consolidation of the resort industry make NOW the perfect time to help save this ‘endangered species’. We’re ‘ReBooting’ the Red Mountain Ski Club Community Ownership Model from 1947—only this time the clubhouse will have wireless!”
RED is coming off its Best Fiscal Year Ever with deep snow and sales up across all major categories. The last few years have seen the resort truly enter the big leagues by opening Grey Mountain (~1,000 acres new terrain!), launching the four-season Get Lost Adventure Centre, and the Legacy Training Centre to underscore RED’s reputation for breeding ski racers who make mercury look like molasses. This newest campaign is aimed to continue this momentum, keeping this grand adventure real and sustainable for years to come. All monies raised for this campaign will go toward improving the adventure here at RED - plans will include remodeling the Paradise lodge; additional run development for expanded cat skiing on Mount Kirkup; building a new restaurant, clubhouse, and overnight on mountain cabins at the top of Grey Mountain; and the extension of the Silverlode chair to allow access to both Granite Mountain and Grey Mountain. For spring and summer activities, we’ll be building a multi use trail for hiking and mountain biking from the base area to the top of Grey Mountain connecting to the Seven Summits trail system. Your Investment will also support the creation of an annual local academic Scholarship fund for higher education.
Shredders currently face a resort landscape with a very different topography from even a decade ago. Many independents have lost their original tourism base to larger destinations sharing points, perks and/or ownership with one another and are struggling to survive. Every month sees deeper consolidation. It’s turned into a game of RISK as big players snap up struggling urban hills and far-flung destination resorts in an attempt to dominate the slippery parts of the globe. To cite just one glaring example, Vail Resorts has lassoed Park City, Utah, Perisher, Australia and tiny Wilmot Mountain, Wisconsin in the last couple of years—and now this month Whistler, B.C.—and shows no sign of calling it quits.
Luxury shopping malls at the base. Water parks. Covered escalators to the lift line. @*&#!*% cappuccino concierges?! All of this ‘growth’ is funded by skiers—whether they want it or not – pricing out many regular ski families and the local mountain communities themselves (ironic, huh). RED is keen to turn this corporate tide before it’s too late.
“RED is an endangered species within the resort world,” says Katkov. “We have the snowfall, vert and world-class terrain to go boot-to-boot with the Big Guys, but have consciously maintained our mom ’n’ pop/weird uncle feel for over 100 years. Think of this as a family investment. We do.”
Round 1, which goes live August 23rd, is deemed “Test the Waters,” and parties can express interest in the investment without handing over any actual loot now or later. (Imagine a hyper-convoluted “Like” Button that is 100% risk-free. Put down $1,000 or $10,000—no commitments). When Test the Waters gains sufficient interest, RED will file an offering statement with the SEC in the United States and prepare a Canadian offering memorandum to launch with real dollars, actual equity, and unique perks sure to appeal to ski and snowboard enthusiasts especially.
“We’re gonna be the Green Bay Packers of the ski world!” jokes Katkov. “And, just like The Pack or Bernie Sanders or whichever underdog inspires you, we’re really looking to our hardcore fans to throw down here – we’re talking ownership after all. We’ll happily take the big bucks—bring it!—but we have intentionally set our minimum at a very low $1,000 to entice hardcore skiers and snowboarders who might not have a High Net Worth—even if some of them have the ‘high’ part on lockdown...”
“We aren’t just keeping it real for us,” adds Katkov. “We’re keeping it real for everyone. This is serious. That’s why we call ourselves a Keystone Species. We believe that keeping a place like RED thriving betters the sport for everyone in a time where families that love this mountain lifestyle are feeling disrespected and dejected. Skiing and snowboarding should never become elite sports. So we hope you’ll join us—in any way you can—to ‘Fight the Man. Own the Mountain.’”
RED Mountain Resort
RED is the last great, unspoiled resort. Located in Rossland, BC, 1st stop on Canada’s famous Powder Highway, RED delivers 2,877 acres of pristine, unfettered skiing. RED recently added nearly 1,000 acres of intermediate to advanced terrain on Grey Mountain. With 7.6m of annual snowfall, (cheap!) in-bounds cat-skiing, and the friendliest locals around, it’s no wonder The NY Times voted us their #8 “Best Place in the World to Visit in 2013.” Other recent wins include Powder’s “Ski Town Throwdown,” and “Most Underrated Resort” by Skiing. Fresh turns that you don’t have to fight for—that’s RED.